By Connor Lynch
CHESTERVILLE – Twenty-nine-year old Chesterville-area dairy farmer, Mike Von Gunten, was killed in an on-farm accident last month.
Von Gunten was pinned under a TMR feed mixer and suffered fatal injuries on May 7, according to the Ministry of Labour, which was investigating the incident. Von Gunten was found unresponsive at the farm and declared dead. A post-mortem was to be conducted to determine cause of death.
The TMR malfunctioned and its arm fell down with such force it pinned Von Gunten underneath, said his uncle Nick Thurler, who runs a dairy farmer at nearby Mountain. The dairy farm was a proud and progressive operation that Von Gunten and his brother Peter, were poised to take over one day, Thurler said.
“You couldn’t have asked for a better kid. He worked really hard, all the time, just like his dad,” Thurler said. Von Gunten was also quick with a joke or a smile; very outgoing, he played guitar and sang in a band. Thurler added that Von Gunten had just gotten engaged about a month before the accident and it was going to be his 30th birthday on May 13. “Everything was going his way.”
The family milks 500 dairy cattle under the Sybrenson Farms Ltd. banner. But their beginnings tell the story of farm hands with a plan and tremendous perseverance. Von Gunten and his parents, Felix and Valerie, started as employees and within a few years, bought the farm, its tie-stall barn and 80 or so cows. They erected a new barn in 1997 and put up an addition in 2007, and two new barns for heifers and calves only a few years ago. These days the freestall barn holds more than five times more dairy cattle
Said Thurler: “Nobody that I know would have worked that hard and built a farm that size with what they started with. Almost unbelievable.”
That Mike and Peter were so willing and able to take it over was a “dream come true,” Thurler said. “(Felix) worked his ass off his whole life to build this farm so his two boys would have a better life.”
EASTERN ONTARIO: Young dairy farmer Mike Von Gunten killed in on-farm accident
By Connor Lynch